Serena Williams has been thrashed 6-0, 6-2 by Simona Halep in their round robin match at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore. Halep now leads the red group with two wins while the top seed is in second place with a record of 1-1 followed by Ana Ivanovic who after her 6-3, 6-2 win over Eugenie Bouchard is third with 1-1, leaving Bouchard in last place with a 0-2 record.
Halep inflicted on Williams her worst defeat since losing 1-6, 1-6 to Joannette Kruger in Oklahoma City in 1998. That loss was somewhat understandable. The world No. 1 was ranked 48 back then, 19 places below Kruger, and had yet to win a slam, a far cry from the 18 time slam winning reigning world No. 1 player in the world she is now.
Williams, who did not blame the knee injury that forced her to miss Beijing for the defeat, said she was “embarrassed” by the lopsided loss. Perhaps the most embarrassing statistic from the match will be the 18 unforced errors she hit during the first set. A set in which she still hit more winners than her opponent – 4 winners to 3 – but against an opponent who made only one unforced error the entire set, 18 unforced errors was akin to tennis suicide.
Halep kept her form to break her opponent at the start of the second set as she built a 2-0 lead. Williams did get back into the match for 1-2, but then fell behind to 1-4. Though Williams fought and had a break point at 2-5, the limp backhand she hit into the net, a rally shot she could make with her eyes closed any other day, was indicative of her form.
A forehand error on the next point from Williams after another steady rally from Halep, hitting her strokes deep and keeping Williams at the baseline, and the Romanian had match point. The two exchanged angled backhands until Halep took control of the point, going down the line and then forcing an error as she stepped into the court and smacked a huge forehand from up high to the Williams forehand. Williams, unable to handle the pace from the ball landing right at her body, hit her forehand into the net and a somewhat stunned Halep raised her arms as she celebrated her first win over a world No. 1 and a player ranked in the world’s top three.
Williams was somewhat stunned, too. However, in the way only the world No. 1 can philosophize after a loss, she said she was grateful to the Romanian for making her want to go away and work harder. That could turn out to be the worst possible thing for the remaining players in the event. Serena is not one to take being “embarrassed” lightly, and will come out more focused than ever in her next matches.
Eugenie Bouchard is up next for the American. The two have met once, in 2013 in Cincinnati. Bouchard took the first set that day before winning only four more games. How many games she will win against Williams this time is, after the Halep loss, anyone’s guess. Halep, meanwhile, will take on Ana Ivanovic. If she wins that, she will finish on top of the red group, a scenario few predicted before the event, and a scenario which while may be “embarrassing” for Williams is nothing less than intriguing for fans.